LexisNexis

Belarus International Trade in Legal Services

Belarus International Trade in Legal Services

HOME COUNTRY LICENSING QUESTIONS

Is there legislation governing the legal sector

The Law "On the Bar and Legal Practice in the Republic of Belarus"  of 6 April 2012, No. 334 – Z, amending the "Law On Advocates” of June 15 1993, No. 2406-X  and the Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus “On licensing of certain types of activities” No.17 of July 14, 2003

Under what title do lawyers practise?

The profession is divided into two categories 1) Advocates and 2) Legal Advisers

How does an individual lawyer obtain a "licence" to practise law? How often must this be renewed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to become an Advocate, an individual must have received the necessary licence and be a member of the lawyers' collegium. In order to obtain an advocate's licence, the individual concerned must be a citizen of the Republic of Belarus, have a Master’s degree in law, have completed the training required by law and passed the qualification examination, . The required training is at least three years of professional legal experience or six-to-twelve months’ apprenticeship in the Legal Consultation Office of the Bar Association.  In order to become a Legal Adviser, an individual must have been granted a licence by the Ministry of Justice. Licence applications must include: a) the completed application form; b) Legal Adviser’s certificate; c) Employment record book showing that required training has been completed; d) a receipt confirming the payment of the state fee; e) passport information.  Individuals with criminal convictions or who have been found guilty of misconduct may not be admitted to the profession.  Advocates and Legal Advisers may start accumulating the required professional legal experience after completing their degree in law, or upon the completion of the second year of university.  Licences are issued for five years and may be renewed upon application subject to the good history of compliance, payment of a fee and proof of maintenance of professional competence.  Following the 2012 reforms, Legal Advisers with at least five years' experience may apply to be 'grandfathered' into the Advocacy profession and Legal Advisers with less than five years’ experience may sit a simplified bar examination.

Does this entitle the holder to practise throughout the country? If the law license only permits one to practice on a sub-national level, please explain the jurisdictional limits

The licence to practise law in Belarus is national.

 

 

Are there certain activities that are "reserved" to those who are licensed to practise law in the jurisdiction?

Advocates are entitled to provide any kind of legal assistance, including representation in any court, to any physical or legal person on any legal matter whilst legal advisers are limited to:
“provision of paid services of legal nature on issues related to the establishment, operation and closure of corporations and on issues related to business activities of physical persons, including the provision of advice and preparation and examination of documents"". Until 2012, Legal Advisers were also able to represent their clients in commercial courts but the new ""Law on Advocacy"" (2012) restricts appearance in any Belarusian court to Advocates and State employees.

Do you need to hold local nationality to be eligible to practise law?

Only citizens of the Republic of Belarus can become advocates or legal advisers.

What legal forms can lawyers work in? (e.g. self employment, partnership, limited liability partnership, multi-disciplinary partnership, incorporation)

The law permits advocates to practise law only through the Legal Consultation Offices (LCOs) established by local Bar Associations or through “other organizational forms” which may be created by specific decisions of the Bar Association. Since 2012 the new Law has permitted advocates to practise law as sole practitioners or in law offices.
Legal Advisers remain free to practise as sole practitioners (individual entrepreneur) or in law firms (legal entities). 

What other ethical or regulatory requirements must a licensed lawyer comply with? 

 

 

 

 

The profession of advocate is subject to the ethical requirements contained in the Law on Advocates and the regulations issued by the National Bar Association.  The seven municipal Bar Associations set ethical standards, discipline advocates and regulate the number of bar members. Advocates are also subject to tight regulation of fees as clients pay for legal services through the Legal Consultation Offices of the various branches of the Bar Association. These offices retain 30% and pay advocates the remainder of their monthly income. Taxes and other fees are deductable separately. (See Resolution of the Ministry of Justice No.37 of June 8, 2007 “On Rules of Professional Ethics for Persons Providing Legal Services”). Advocates must also comply with legal requirements to provide a certain amount of free legal advice to certain groups in Society. Legal Advisers must register the prices of their services with the Ministry of Justice.

Do law firms need to receive a "license" (or permission/approval) to practice law?

 

Legal Advisers who wish to operate through an office/corporation must do so through a resident company of Belarus, in which all staff, including the director and deputy directors (excluding technical and support staff) possess university degrees in law, and at least two of them are certified to practise as Legal Advisers.  Advocates must seek the approval of the Legal Consulting Offices of the Bar Associations for their form of practice, whether as a sole practitioner or in a chamber with other Advocates.

Which authority issues licences? Are there different authorities for individuals and firms? 

 

 

Both legal professions are licensed and regulated by the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice designs the content of qualifying examinations and appoints the Advocates Qualification Commission (AQC), chaired by the Deputy Minister of Justice, which issues, extends and revokes licences. Advocates must then also become a member of one of the seven local Bar Associations.  Legal Advisers are licensed by a separate Commission appointed by the Ministry of Justice which also contains Ministry representatives (See: Instruction “Concerning the procedure of issuance of lawyer’s qualification certificates” adopted by the Resolution of the Ministry of Justice No.26 of October 29, 2003).

   

INDIVIDUAL FOREIGN LAWYERS

Are there any explicit rules or restrictions other than visas on fly in fly out practice of law? Ie. Do you need to obtain a licence for temporary practice?

There are no explicit restrictions on the fly-in fly-out practice of law provided services are not marketed directly to the public.

 

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a visa to visit clients or to market but not to practice?

Business visitors may obtain a visa to visit Belarus but must have an invitation from a Belarussian business. Citizens of the CIS do not require a visa.

Can a foreign lawyer obtain a licence to establish and practise as a foreign legal consultant and what is the scope of this limited licence?

There is no requirement for a foreign lawyer to obtain a licence to practise as foreign legal consultant in Belarus but they must not call themselves advocates and do not have right of audience where these are reserved to advocates. Any legal services including consultations can be provided through law firms, established in a prescribed procedure.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled once a foreign lawyer has been granted a limited licence (e.g. residency requirement)

Not beyond the general requirements for the issuance of work permits to foreign nationals.

Are there any conditions that must be fulfilled for a foreign lawyer to qualify for a limited licence? (e.g. prior practice)

Not applicable

 

Are foreign lawyers permitted to undertake arbitration and mediation? The Law "On international arbitration" of July 9, 1999 covers both international economic disputes (in which at least one party is foreign) and wholly Belarusian disputes. Article 5 of the Rules of the International Arbitration Court at the Belarus Chamber of Commerce requires that "Only a capable natural person possessing appropriate professional knowledge and the necessary personal qualities may be elected as an arbitrator, a reserve arbitrator as well as a main presiding arbitrator or a reserve presiding arbitrator". There are no nationality restrictions.
Are foreign lawyers allowed to appear in court under any circumstances?

Only Belarussian advocates may appear in court.
The only exception is made for Lithuanian lawyers, who canappear in court in order to provide legal services for foreign citizens or legal entities in civil litigation.
However, apart from appearance in courts, there is no restriction for legal assistance or drafting documents.

Can foreign lawyers requalify as local lawyers? Despite the statutory possibility for reciprocal recognition, Belarus specified under the Agreement on service trade and investment in member states of Common Economic Space agreement that only citizens of the Republic of Belarus could receive the status of advocate, notary and patent attorney.

FOREIGN LAW FIRMS

Can a foreign law firm obtain a licence to open an office?

There is no requirement for foreign law firms to obtain special licences to practise law beyond the usual company registration procedures.

Even if a foreign law firm does not require a legal licence must they register in some form in order to set up an office? (e.g. with a ministry of company affairs etc)

Branches are not allowed so foreign companies must set up new legal entities in Belarus which requires registration with the State Registry.  Foreign representative offices require the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but do not need to be established as legal entities.
Are there different types of foreign law firm 'licence'  (e.g. Joint Law Venture, stand alone foreign licence etc)

Not applicable

Is there a quota on the number of licences available? There are no quantitative limitations on law firms
Are there geographical restrictions on foreign firm licences or on the number of branches a foreign firm can have? There are no geographical restrictions on law firms
   

EMPLOYMENT AND PARTNERSHIP

Are there restrictions on the ownership share of foreign lawyers in a law firm?

No

May a domestic lawyer be employed by a foreign lawyer or law firm?

Yes

Can a domestic lawyer enter into partnership with a foreign lawyer?

Yes

Can a domestic lawyer or domestic law firm employ a foreign lawyer?

Yes

   

OTHER USEFUL LINKS/SOURCES

Other useful sources or comments or links

Ministry of Justice - www.minjust.by/en